Associated with the process of collective bargaining between employees and an employer, a bargaining unit is composed of persons who are recognized by both the company and a legally organized labor union to negotiate matters involving employment issues. Some of these issues include safety conditions on the job, salary and benefits, job qualifications, and general working conditions and procedures. The main purpose of the unit is to create a working situation that is advantageous for both the employer and the employee.
Generally, a bargaining unit must be formed in compliance with standards that are set by the industry and often by agencies that are designed to ensure the proper function of these unions and unionized employees who are associated with the entities. Along with meeting the union requirements to participate in the unit, individuals must also be acceptable to the employer as well. The result of creating this type of communication between the bank of unionized employees and the employer is a clear means of addressing labor issues before they cause disruption in the work process. In addition, these units help to prevent the spread of incorrect information about the current status of the working relationship between the workers, the union, and the employer.
From the perspective of the employee, the bargaining unit provides a means of seeking benefits that are considered equitable for the type and amount of work that is required by the employer. This may involve a request for an increase in the rate of pay, the addition of overtime benefits, improvements to health insurance or pension plans, and the improvement of safety conditions on the job. The unit acts to make the needs and the desires of the employees known in a manner that presents a united voice that can work with the employer to explore all options that are relevant to the matter at hand.
An advantage to the employer is that a bargaining unit typically does not present an item for discussion unless two factors are present. First, there must be a significant amount of support for the item manifested among the unionized workers. Second, the union will have investigated the claim or proposition thoroughly and approved the item for presentation to the employer. This helps to eliminate a lot of wasted time responding to requests and ideas that may or may not have any real support among the employees. The bargaining unit also provides a focused means of addressing the matter with the employees, making communication back and forth much more effective and concise.